Five Favorites: More Books

Here are some of my bookish favorites of late:

1. Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres.

I just finished this for book club. Highly, highly recommended.

This book is historical fiction, it’s a romance, take your pick. When trying to describe this book, I fall into clichés because it’s just that great: sweeping, poignant, epic, character-driven . . . magnificent. It’s the story of Greece’s occupation during World War II and the civil war and strife caused by its own Communist thugs afterward. It’s told through a love story between a Greek doctor’s daughter and a captain in the occupying Italian forces.

I’ve taken my fair share of history courses, but I never internalize history so well as when I learn about it in a novel. This one is long but it’s worthwhile. It’s broken up into short chapters and written in pithy language and filled with life-like characters. Please don’t be prejudiced by the movie version. I haven’t seen it, but Nicholas Cage plays the romantic male lead, so . . . *shudder.*

2. If you need something lighter, check out Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns), by Mindy Kaling.

Ms. Kaling plays the airheaded Kelly Kapoor on The Office, but she also co-writes, directs, and produces the show. I love, love reading funny, smart-as-a-whip women who don’t take themselves too seriously (bonus points for those whose minds are not stuck in the gutter). Among other topics, Ms. Kaling recounts her deliciously awkward childhood and reflects on being as a normal-sized woman in Hollywood:

Since I am not model-skinny, but also not super-fat and fabulously owning my hugeness, I fall into that nebulous, ‘Normal American Woman Size’ that legions of fashion stylists detest. For the record, I’m a size 8 (this week anyway). Many stylists hate that size because, I think, to them, I lack the self-discipline to be an aesthetic, or the sassy confidence to be a total fatty hedonist. They’re like ‘Pick a lane.’

She also expresses surprisingly traditional views on love and marriage, coming from a completely secular point of view, which makes me love her even more.

3. BOB Books by Bobby Lynn Maslen:

Girl 1 is starting to read, and it is so exciting! I’ve never wanted to homeschool but I always thought it would be nice to teach my kids to read. I taught swimming lessons back in the day, and teaching a child a new, life-changing skill is so satisfying. As it happens, Girl 1’s reading moment came this summer, so I guess I can say I taught her. Any suggestions for other beginning level readers for us to read with her at home?

4. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Everyone reads this in high school. Everyone should re-read it at least ten years later, as I recently did for book club. It takes on a whole new significance once you’ve lived long enough that each character reminds you, at least a bit, of someone you’ve met in real life. And it’s quite the jolt when one realizes Myrtle Wilson might very well look like oneself.

Has anyone seen the new movie version? I can’t wait for it to come to DVD. Leonardo DiCaprio has a lot of haters but I don’t really mind him. I started watching the 1970s Robert Redford version, but it bored me, and Jack McCoy as Nick Carraway was just too weird.

5. Goodreads: Not a book but an online book listing/reviewing/sharing social network of sorts. I love it! I never find myself wandering around the library anymore, wondering what to read next. (Sometimes that sort of wandering leads to an Evelyn Waugh kick, which isn’t so bad. But sometimes it leads to really horrible mistakes and other choices you’re not proud of later.)

Every time I come across a book I want to read, I add it to my “to-read” list so I won’t forget. I have enough books on my “to-read” list now to last me the next ten years, and it’s kind of a luxurious feeling. And I love seeing what my friends are reading.

Does anyone know of a similar site for movies? I often hear about movies that I want to see, but I never remember them when Pat and I sit down to watch Netflix or go to Redbox.

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I’m doing double triple duty today, linking up with Hallie at Moxie Wife for her weekly Five Favorites and with Jessica at Housewifespice for What We’re Reading Wednesday and with Modern Mrs. Darcy for her Twitterature link-up, which I just discovered (a monthly link-up of short, informal book reviews: my favorite kind). Thank you ladies!

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31 thoughts on “Five Favorites: More Books

  1. I just use my Netflix queue as my goodreads for movies/TV shows I want to see. You’re allowed to keep 500 DVDs in your queue at a time (yes, I found that out by attempting to go over). I haven’t hit the limit yet for my instant queue. Everytime I see something I’m interested in or get a recommendation, I just add it to my queue.

      • That’s provoking. Amazon has a “your watchlist” feature that works similarly. I don’t think you have to have Prime to use it.

  2. These all sound great! And how exciting to share that reading with your girl! 🙂 Reading was my escape…uhhh it still is, haha! Nothing like finding good books that bring laughter and delight to my toddler. The “Biscuit” books might be good for her. You will have to just tell her the word biscuit but other than that I think they are recommended.

  3. Loved this post! I collect book recommendations like a pro. One of these days I’ll start knocking my list out 😉 WWII novels (fiction or nonfic) are my absolute favorite. Right now, I am tackling The Zookeeper’s Wife (WWII book) and Death Comes to Pemberly. Plus a ton of others…oy vey.

  4. Love #2 and #4. I have’t seen the Leo movie yet, but it is on my must-do-very-soon list. I wanted to see it in theaters because, well, Baz Lurman. But, I didn’t because, well, kids.

    And, if you say #1 is so wonderful, I’m going to give it a go!

    • Just now finally looked up who Baz Lurman is. I didn’t like Moulin Rouge, didn’t see R+J or Australia, but I LOVE strictly ballroom. So . . . we’ll see. Hope you like Corelli! It’s gritty in parts . . . it’s so much a matter of taste, but I really do think it’s a great book.

  5. We really love Nora Gaydos’s “Now I’m Reading” phonics readers. they are a step up in difficulty from the Bob readers. But the stories are amazingly engaging for the constraints under which they are written word-wise. Also the illustrations are really cute. The first set is called Animal Antics.

    Ugh. Do NOT like The Great Gatsby. The hedonism and disaffectedness is just not my experience of life. I LIKE life. I think it’s pretty fun even when it’s hard. I basically dislike everyone in that book. So it’s hard to like the book.

    And hey, I did a twofer link-up post today too!

  6. Yes! I brought Mindy’s book on a weeklong vacation with friends, who I knew would all be reading philosophical treatises and the like 🙂 So, despite being my “statement book,” I genuinely enjoyed it — and was also pleasantly surprised with her honesty about desiring a commitment to marriage. Did you watch the Mindy Project? I’d give it maybe….a B+. Descended into some meh/predictable moments later in the season, but early on it got some serious lol-s out of me during my indulgent, naptime Hulu-viewing.

  7. Pingback: On Virginia Woolf and Maria Goretti | This Felicitous Life

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